Halloween Special: A Horror Story from the Field
After many years in the Heating and Air Conditioning business, there are few things that can scare our HVAC technicians – by this point, we often feel like we’ve seen it all! However, once in a great while, we come across something that truly terrifies us. As a Halloween treat, I’d like to share with you one of my most terrifying experiences from out in the field – and trust me, it’s scarier than most ghost stories:
The house looked a little abnormal from the street, but nothing that would scare away a battle-hardened HVAC tech such as myself. It was a raised ranch with a half basement jutting halfway out of the ground without a walkway. The trail went down a driveway half-buried in dirt to the back door. Since the front was surrounded by bushes, I knocked on a loose window pane of an old storm door swinging in the wind.
“Go on in, the Furnace is in the basement!” a voice called, though I didn’t see anyone around. After looking around for a minute, I heard him say it again.
Being on a tight schedule, I decided to stop looking for the elusive voice and get the job done. “There’s nothin’ down there now, she took all the dogs to the vet cause they’re sick,” the voice called again. Whew, must be safe, I thought, so in I went.
The smell was atrocious. I’ve been in some foul places but man, this was a collection of every foul odor ever compiled by man or beast. No light switch and the sound of hundreds of little feet scurrying across the floor, I ascertained they must be larger than mice. My imagination sent me back to the story of a boy named Willard who had a bunch of rats… Anyways, reaching for my flashlight, the translucent glow of the basement was surreal until I realized I was looking at literally thousands of spider webs hanging from the ceiling, clinging to beams, moldy boxes, everything. Spiderwebs everywhere, so thick. I had to think fast. The place was bone-chilling cold, damp and miserable like a damp old dungeon. Do I decline only to be shamefully replaced by someone braver? No way. Grabbing a piece of wood from the floor I reentered and swinging side by side, cut a path through the void. I couldn’t help but think that if the flashlight fails now, it’s all over. Where’s the furnace? I’m blazing a trail into a giant spider nest and so preoccupied with everything I forgot what the heck I was looking for.
Then, there it was. It was like a cocoon, covered from top to bottom in thick spiderwebs. About the time I made it to the furnace, the voice returned and on went a light. Oh dear! Illuminated by the light, the place looked like it had come straight out of a nightmare. The entire place looked like an abandoned barn, with a frightening collection of nests, webs, animal droppings – you name it. Finally, I jumped my handy tool bucket that was equipped with a GFCI outlet and work light to the furnace door switch. Just as I started work the light went out but I had power! The furnace was the filthiest thing I had ever seen. With mouse nests, chewed wires, dirt and rust, I was able to repair the wires and finally finish cleaning the thing after never working faster in my life. Making my escape toward the sunlight, I bolted to the door. Immediately noticing my feet were sticking to the exposed cement part of the driveway, the source of the voice appeared and said, “That’s cat poop!”
I stared at him. So he knew all along about the state of the basement. Never taking my eyes off the guy, I reached into my truck for a spare pair of shoes, walked over to a garbage can and dropped in the soiled ones, put on the spares and got into my van. The guy thought the whole thing was perfectly normal and couldn’t understand why I threw them out. Motioning him to my truck, I made him pay me outside. I told him had I known what was down there, I would have never entered and that’s when he said, “That’s why I kept the light off!”